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Posts tagged as “The Black Laser Reads”

A Brief List of Goals for 2022

While I’ve gone over my primary goal of staying away from social media for the year previously, I’ve also been thinking about some things I’d like to accomplish for the year. It’s not a bad idea to add a positive thread to a year about avoiding things, even if the things I’m avoiding are crazy-making.

These aren’t just personal or professional goals, but a mix of the two. In this era of working from home in the midst of being a stay-at-home parent, the lines between the two types of goals are often hazy, so why not mix them together in this list and let it fly? They’re already mixed together in my head. Besides, work is essentially personal since, for me at least, I work to support my life rather than live to work.

I share these with you as a commitment device. If you, faceless reader, know that I am striving to accomplish these things, then I will more easily be able to pressure myself out of slacking.

In no particular order, here we go.

  • Record some TBLR episodes: I dabbled with The Black Laser Reads many years ago and then sort of let it drop. However, I’ve been thinking about The Black Laser Reads non-stop since then. A dig through the post archive reveals that only two episodes were released, both in the in summer of 2011. That means it’s been bouncing around in my head for ten and a half years with little public action. I’ve finally got an acceptably imperfect VO booth set up here in my office and an ever-deepening list of public domain works that I am interested in. It’s just a matter now of doing the recording.
  • Make more photos: Sarah and I have this crazy idea of owning a photo studio one day, but, as a photographer, I feel like I still need lots of practice. I’m getting the dust out and I shoot and process very deliberately, but there are so many aspects I need to improve on before I’d be comfortable charging for the work. Practice practice!
  • Improve my photo compositing skills: I am like a B-minus level photo compositor. The problem is that I don’t really know what I need to do to improve. I enjoy the work, definitely, but I am at a bit of an impasse where I need some structured education in the matter. I really just want our holiday cards to be better than everyone else’s. Simple.
  • Write more on The Black Laser: I’ve already started doing this. I’d like to keep it up. At the beginning, I wrote here all the time about anything that interested me. A lot of it is very bad, but that is the price we pay to get better at a skill. Then, for many years—let’s call them “The Quiet Years”—I worried that no one cared at all about what I wrote here. That is the result of my skill and taste levels increasing at different rates. Significantly better taste with moderately better skill. Many ideas were hatched and all were killed by the “Why bother?”s. Much silence ensued. Now, while I am still unconvinced that people are too interested in what I have to write, the whole purpose is the bother. That is, the work is the reason to do the work. And I’m enjoying it again!
  • Write some more stories: During the class at Cabrillo I was on a streak. Sure, it was for the class, but I was in the mindset and the barrier to the work was low. Then we had COVID hit the world, the cross-country move, the triplets pregnancy, the temporary move to Maryland, the birth of the girls, the unending hospital misery, the loss of Olive, the move back to Delaware, and the struggle to figure out how to be parents who work. Somewhere along the way, the needle just sort of popped out of the groove. I’d like to flip it over and start the B side.
  • Make a local friend: It’s crazy what social distancing and two little girls who can’t walk yet will do to prevent you from making friends. No one’s fault, of course. As much of an introvert as I am, having a friend within driving distance would probably not be such a bad idea. How to make that friend is a totally different proposition.
  • Continue to practice my penmanship: My handwriting is not bad, by any means, but it is a funny mix of half-remembered cursive and printing. You will often see both a cursive S and a printing S in the same word. I purchased the Spencerian Penmanship book set a few months ago and was steadily practicing while doing overnights just after we brought Penelope and Beatrice home. After the move back to Delaware, I have not been keeping up with it so well. There’s something about not having 8 hours of forced quiet time every single night to make you lose sight of the learning you were doing. Of course, my penmanship doesn’t matter at all, but it’s something I’d like to improve so I am going to.

That’s kind of a lot of stuff, I guess. But there is kind of a lot of time in a year and it is important to have goals. Keep up with me and see how far I get! Commitment devices!

Also, you might have noticed an audio file embedded in the top of this post. Click it! That’s me reading to you on my website for your enjoyment. I thought that adding audio versions of these posts would be a fun way to add a little value to the site and give me a chance to hone my monologue editing skills. You get all the benefit; I do all the work. Win-win.


Photo by Erfan Afshari on Unsplash

Creative Projects-July: One and A Half is better than Zero, or, Where is all this money from!?

July was a successful for month for me on both pursuits for this year.

Creatively, I put another The Black Laser Reads… out into the universe and managed to finally begin the redesign of the site. I didn’t finish the redesign until we had rolled over into August so it won’t count towards July, but does count for my overall year tally of getting things did. I am pretty psyched on that. Hopefully, if I can keep this momentum up, you’ll be seeing a year end summary where I can claim to have finished more than 100% of my allotted projects. Pretty good. Gets my juices going, that does.

It is also quite nice to have finally passed 50% of my allotment, with another 8.333% in the works. It’s not yet ready to be shared, but it will be done before the month ends so look for more about that when the time comes for my August summary.

In regards to my secondary goal for the year, July was great. I was quite good at sticking to my “don’t go drinking during the week” guideline which feels good. I’m sleeping well (except for the heat), waking up easily, feeling chipper in the morning, and I’m finding money in my pocket from the beginning of the week. It just stays there! That was welcome because, for a variety of reasons, July ended up being a fairly cash-strapped month for me. Finding money that I would have previously written off as history ended up being nice little reminders that I was successfully sticking to my plan. That’s good.

I’ve also been riding my bike around a bit. I quite like it and find that I am flying around like a lunatic whenever possible. Not recklessly, of course, but enough. Though the month of constantly threatening rain has dissuaded me from taking the bike out on more than one occasion. That’s a drag, but getting caught in whipping sheets of rain in the dark with the wind blowing your contacts out as you ride through traffic is less desirable. I’ll pick my battles there.

Overall, pretty positive month for me and, aside from some weirdo mental shit on and off that has little to do with my theme, feeling pretty good about it. I feel like I am developing a healthy pattern here of work, followed by work, followed by relaxing.

I’ll check back in on this business in a month.

The Black Laser Reads… Charles Bukowski’s “It’s A Dirty World”

For this edition of The Black Laser Reads I picked a relatively short short story by one of my favorites, Charles Bukowski, called “It’s A Dirty World” from his 1983 collection of short stories Hot Water Music. The subject matter, style, and tone could not be more different than “The Tell-Tale Heart” which made it an attractive choice.

I’m not sure I like my performance on this as much as the other one, but what are you going to do? These are supposed to be about learning, not putting out tons of ace material. It’s not bad, mind you, but something feels flat, a little wrong. I might just be hyper-critical so ignore my self-doubts if you would.

This time I also edited a lot less than the previous one. You’ll actually hear breaths in this one. I did, however, go through and get rid of any spit sounds. Sorry, purists, that shit is gross and I hate hearing it. If I missed any, it was not on purpose.

[audio:https://www.theblacklaser.net/projects/tblr/TBLR_02_Its_A_Dirty_World.mp3|artists=Charles Bukowksi|titles=It’s A Dirty World]
Download here. TBLR 02 “It’s A Dirty World”.

Check back for more! It’s hot as hell in my apartment when I do these without an air conditioner or fan running and with the windows closed. I’ve been sweating the whole time. I suffer for you all, my lovely Black Laserites.

The Black Laser Reads… Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Welcome to inaugural edition of “The Black Laser Reads”! A few days ago a call went out to Twitter and Facebook asking for suggestions for short stories that people liked. I got a lot of really good suggestions from people and have a running list on my Google Docs. I’m thinking Lovecraft, Bukowski, Carver, O’Connor, and so many more. The whole point behind this project is to build a body of audiobook work so that maybe somewhere down the line I can make it a professional pursuit. But, for now, it’s just fun to share stories with folks.

For this first one I picked Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” because it was my mom’s suggestion and it is Mother’s Day. Pretty perfect if you ask me. Happy Mother’s Day, mom. The story is also nice and short for this first outing. No reason to start with “Bartleby The Scrivener,” right?

[audio:https://www.theblacklaser.net/projects/tblr/TBLR_01_The_Tell-Tale_Heart.mp3|artists=Edgar Allen Poe|titles=The Tell-Tale Heart]
Download here.

I hope you guys enjoyed this. I had fun reading it and tweaking the audio all to hell. I’m thinking that I’ll try and do one of these once or twice a month. This was about 3 hours of work, but I imagine that I’ll get faster as I go along. And next time, I won’t have the mic pointing towards the fridge. Oops. Rookie mistake. I nearly re-recorded the whole thing when I heard it in the background.